In the Media

Judges reject latest reform plan

PUBLISHED February 14, 2007

Senior judges are strongly opposed to plans by ministers to restrict their power to quash guilty criminals' convictions because there has been a mistake in the trial process.

It is the latest of the Home Secretary's plans for rebalancing the criminal justice system to fall foul of the judiciary. Critics say that the highest courts should have a last-resort power to denounce flagrant abuses by the state by striking down improperly secured convictions.

The judges have told the Home Office that they do not accept that the proposals are necessary, or that they would "rebalance the criminal justice system in favour of the victim and the law-abiding majority".

The changes would "do nothing to further this aim", the judges say in their written comments. They add that two of the reform options, requiring a rewording of the test applied by judges, would be ineffective. The third, requiring appeal judges to re-examine evidence, would "undermine the constitutional primacy of the jury".

A Home Office spokeswoman said that the responses were still being considered.